World Food Day: October 16
World Food Day was founded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. Since that time, we celebrate the ways that communities come together to distribute, grow, and protect food sources. A core focus of World Food Day is around “food security”, meaning the availability of food, its quality, and the community’s access to it.
One of the resources to end hunger and increase food security in Western North Carolina is the Appalachian Farms Feeding Families Program (AFFF) created by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP).
AFFF has been ASAP’s pandemic response program to address both food insecurity and giving farms an outlet to sell their food in the wake of restaurant closures. In 2021, they have served 51 farms in the program and 68 feeding sites, which include child care centers and food banks. These sites have been matched with a farm in the ASAP farm network. Every week, the sites order fresh produce from the farms, and the farms send ASAP the bill so they are fairly compensated. For the sites, the food is free and offers their clients fresh, local options!
ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. In one of their recent newsletters, they talked with Melinda Aponte, nutrition coordinator for the YWCA of Asheville’s Early Learning Program. The YWCA is part of ASAP’s Appalachian Farms Feeding Families program, working with Ivy Creek Family Farm to provide fresh, local produce for the children:
Why do you think it’s important for children and families to be connected to local food and farms?
Why isn’t it? That’s the question. Teaching children about food goes hand in hand with the mission of the YWCA: “Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women, and Promoting Peace, Justice, Freedom, and Dignity for All.” But in addition to that, with local food, we’re bringing down our carbon footprint and giving these kids more nutritional bang for their buck by eating local and seasonal food. Fresh vegetables and fruit provide a foundation to promote lifelong health and wellness.
Can you talk about how your relationship with Ivy Creek Family Farm has developed through the Appalachian Farms Feeding Families program?
Before COVID I was trying to connect with local farmers, then COVID happened and that disappeared. I was so excited when I got the email from ASAP and was connected with Anna [Littman of Ivy Creek Family Farm]. It’s just been fantastic. By working with a farmer over time, seeing the farmer, you get that personal connection. They understand what you are cooking, for how many, and what are your future goals. You understand what they’ve planted when it’s going to be in season. That communication is huge. I get to talk to Anna when she delivers. I love to tell her what we’re making. I told her I wasn’t going to throw out those beautiful beet greens—no I’m sautéing those bad boys. I use every part of the vegetable that’s edible because I want the children to have the most nutritious meals. Some of these children don’t have access to these veggies at home. It just fills my heart to know that the meals we provide are excellent.
To learn more about AFFF, visit the ASAP website.